"Cars in books", May 1971

From Princess Chula Chakrabongse.

Following the article on “Cars In Books”, I must answer some of the queries about my late husband’s cars, as I naturally love nice cars after so many years of luxurious driving with him.

The Voisin is still in the garage in Cornwall. I fear it has not been overhauled since 1955, but it doubtless would still go after some work being done on it. Beside it is Bira’s MG—nicknamed “Fidget”—which we last took out of the garage in 1955 and I drove it a short distance.

The 1916 Cadillac is still in working order and only requires batteries to get it going. It was driven in 1968 round the drive. The Park Ward Rolls-Royce—ALM 757, which my husband had chauffeur-driven when we first met—was only sold in 1953. It was then sold to Mr. Dunton of Guildford—he died two or three years ago, and its present owner—Mr. Gansden—wrote to me last year, sending me a photograph of it. It still has the same blue paint and upholstery!—and the mileometer was then registering 138,000. He loves the car.

The Vanden Plas Bentley was driven by Bira, and he sold it as his girl-friend didn’t like open cars because they ruffled her hair and hats! Otherwise we might still have it.

After “First Class Ticket” was finished my husband bought a Silver Cloud II Rolls-Royce, which we kept until he died. It was mainly driven by me and we only did 33,000 miles, then it was sold and, strangely enough, bought by a man I’d known 30 years ago.

We also had a Cadillac for five years from 1952, and drove it for Continental trips. I gave my husband a Jaguar XK150 soft-top when we’d been married 20 years; he didn’t drive, I did. It was royal blue—as all our stable are blue still. It did 80,000 trouble-free miles.

It was strange. During the year my husband was ill he recovered enough to take the Rolls to the Edinburgh Festival and the Highlands. Our return drive took us to Windermere. I drove all the way from Windermere to Bodmin in one day—509 miles—at an average speed of 45 m.p.h., which in September, 1963, was pretty good going.

I might mention we had a very good stop for lunch and dinner for the driver to rest. This was the last long drive my husband ever did.

I was so glad I accomplished it, and we could see the car parked through the dining-room windows where we dined!

Elisabeth Chakrabongse.